Bob Schoenlein, Deputy Director for Science
As the ALS Deputy Director for Science, I have the opportunity to work with a broad cross-section of the scientists and staff in our organization – in particular, all the beamline scientists and the Division Deputies that lead the Experimental Systems and Scientific Support Groups, as well as the ALS User’s Office. Of course, my primary focus is on the science programs at the ALS: helping to insure that the research done at the ALS is of the highest scientific impact; helping to identify and develop new science directions and new user groups; and helping to advance and refine the ALS Strategic Plan.
This activity takes many forms, and involves the work of many people – both within the ALS and from the two primary ALS scientific committees: the Proposal Study Panel (PSP) and the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Peer review, evaluation, and recommendations are invaluable to insure the scientific vitality of the ALS. I work closely with the ALS User Office to organize the external peer review and PSP evaluation of the ~200 new proposals that are submitted for General User access to the ALS each six month cycle. I also arrange the external peer review of the more extensive Approved Program proposals (we typically receive several each cycle), which are subsequently evaluated by both the PSP and the SAC. The PSP and the SAC each meet twice per year, with the PSP focusing on General User and Approved Program proposals, and scoring consistency across the reviewer pool, while the SAC provides important strategic advice and recommendations on the broader ALS scientific programs. Complementing the General User access channels, I allocate Director’s Discretionary time to provide limited access to beamlines to initiate new research directions (providing the basis for future proposals) or for compelling experiments that warrant rapid access.
In addition to evaluating submitted scientific proposals, we have an on-going series of cross-cutting reviews at the ALS, typically two to three per year. These reviews bring in international experts to evaluate research activities across beamlines or across scientific areas, and to provide advice on new opportunities and areas for improvement. The most recent cross-cutting review covered Photon-in/Photon-out science, i.e., research areas based primarily on the spectroscopy of inelastically-scattered photons (RIXS, XES, fluorescence etc.). The next review will be in the area of Microscopy. In addition to these cross-cutting reviews, I organize regular reviews of the beamlines that are operated by Participating Research Teams (PRT). In January, we held a review of Structural Biology Programs at the ALS, covering the Protein Crystallography beamlines and the National Center for X-Ray Tomography. This will serve as the basis for renewal of their PRT agreements with the ALS. Regular internal reviews and peer evaluation of our scientific programs provide useful feedback for allocation of ALS resources, and for planning future research directions. Of course this is also invaluable for preparing for the triennial BES review that will be held in early 2011.
In my spare time, I try to maintain an active research program in ultrafast science. This program is part of the LBNL Materials Sciences Division (Ultrafast Materials Program) and the Chemical Sciences Division (Ultrafast X-Ray Science Laboratory). It involves laser-based research of dynamics in complex materials and molecular systems. This program also makes extensive use of ALS ultrafast beamlines 6.0.1 and 6.0.2. Additionally, I am contributing to the development of the scientific case for the Next Generation Light Source – most recently in the preparation of example science drivers (in response to questions posed by BES) and in the organization of a three day workshop focusing on condensed matter and materials physics applications for the Next Generation Light Source.
ALSNews Vol. 310
Howard Padmore, Division Deputy for Experimental Systems
The Experimental Systems Group supports a wide range of activities at the ALS including:
- The operation and development of hard and soft x-ray beamlines. The beamlines we support include ultrafast (6.0), SAXS/WAXS (7.3.3), x-ray tomography (8.3.2), diffractive imaging (9.0.1), micro XAS/XRD/XRF (10.3.2), small molecule chemical crystallography (11.3.1), high pressure (12.2.2), and micro-diffraction (12.3.2). The unifying theme of this suit of beamlines is materials science research, from understanding atomic structure to macroscopic 3D structure of natural and engineered materials. Much of this work is related to practical real world problems, from studies of carbon sequestration in porous rocks using x-ray tomography, to the structure of polymers for photovoltaic applications.
- Providing support for optical metrology and design, as well as optics research and development. This includes operation of a state of the art optical metrology laboratory, and a beamline for x-ray and detector R&D (5.3.1). It also includes the optical design of major projects, such as MAESTRO and COSMIC, and coordination with engineering groups.
- Advancing new ALS programs by working with the user community to develop new techniques and/or new areas of scientific application of synchrotron radiation methods. An past example of this is our work with the Falcone group to develop streak-camera-based ultrafast techniques, which has now become an established feature on BL 6.0. Current examples include the development of soft x-ray scattering as applied to polymer systems on BL 11.0.1, and the development of coherent x-ray diffraction as an imaging technique on 9.0.1.
- The development of technologies for the Next Generation Light Source (NGLS). In this area, the main activity presently is related to work on photocathodes. The NGLS specification calls for operation at a repetition rate 104 higher than the LCLS. This imposes severe issues for the photogun, and so is one of the foci of R&D work for the NGLS. This work involves development of new photocathode materials that can give low emittance and high average current, and will include the future design of optical systems for the NGLS.
In the future, the focus of our group’s work is really on improving the quality of the experiments that can be done at the ALS, rather than increasing capacity. For example, the flux in BL 11.3.1 (chemical crystallography) can be improved by a factor of 200 by moving to a superbend sector, and we are developing plans for this presently. Large gains can be also achieved moving by SAXS / WAXS (BL 7.3.3) to a superbend, equipping most x-ray beamlines with pixel detectors, and generally increasing automation.
Finally we are active in improving links to the Computational Research Division, so that we can bring modern and much more rapid data analysis techniques to bear on the data we collect. This is particularly important given the enormous increase in data rates we are starting to see from new generations of in-house and commercial detectors.
ALSNews Vol. 309
Zahid Hussain, Division Deputy for Scientific Support
As the ALS Division Deputy for Scientific Support, I oversee the Scientific Support Group (SSG), with the help of deputies Eli Rotenberg and Michael Martin. The SSG's primary mission is to support the efforts of researchers at the ALS through scientific and technical collaboration and scientific outreach. Depending on the needs of ALS users, the degree of collaboration can range from technical assistance with a beamline to full partnership in developing new research programs and experiment endstations. The SSG also strives to expand ALS scientific programs and broaden its user base through presentations, demonstration experiments, and publications.
The group organizes a variety of seminars, including a weekly ALS Center for X-Ray Optics (CXRO) x-ray science and technology seminar series: a targeted weekly lecture series with talks given by leading researchers on various topics. The SSG also organizes ALS Colloquia, given each quarter by world-renowned scientists in synchrotron research and related fields.
The ALS Doctoral Fellowship in Residence program, established in 2001, enables students to acquire hands-on scientific training and develop professional maturity for independent research. More details are available on the ALS Web site. In 2007, we initiated an ALS Postdoctoral Fellowship Program that identifies outstanding individuals in new and emerging scientific fields and provides them with advanced training. Both programs lead the way in establishing a pipeline of future beamline scientists to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Basic Energy Sciences (BES) user facilities.
The SSG played a very active role in creating the "Advanced Light Source Strategic Plan: 2009–2016, Addressing the Scientific Grand Challenges and Our Energy Future" and the new "Photon Science for Renewable Energy" brochure.
The SSG has pioneered unique techniques that enable novel science, particularly using soft x rays. Some of these are listed below:
- Development of ambient-pressure x-ray photoemission spectroscopy (APXPS) that enables XPS experiments at pressures of up to 10 torr, bridging a gap between ultrahigh vacuum and real-world industrial manufacturing conditions.
- Development of time-of-flight (TOF)–based electron-energy analyzers that provide unique advantages over diffusive analyzers. Recently, spin-resolved TOF achieved a world-record energy resolution of better than 20 meV.
- Development of an eight-pole electromagnet that allows unique experiments in x-ray magnetic linear dichroism, leading to reinterpretation of all prior results with this technique.
- Development of a new generation of both high-resolution and high-throughput (spectroscopes/spectrographs?) for photon-in/photon-out spectroscopy. Both of these perform orders of magnitude higher than previous generations.
- Achieved a spatial resolution of near 10 nm from a scanning transmission x-ray microscope.
The SSG has recently developed a new, higher-flux infrared beamline (Beamline 5.4), the meV-resolution beamline (MERLIN), and has begun construction of the MAESTRO beamline that will allow nano-ARPES studies.
I am very proud of the work done by the members of the SSG. They play a pivotal role in keeping ALS science at the forefront of its fields and making the ALS an outstanding user facility.
ALSNews Vol. 308
David Robin, Division Deputy for Accelerator Operations and Development
As the ALS Division Deputy for Accelerator Operations and Development, I oversee the Accelerator Physics Group, the Accelerator Operations Group, the Floor Operations Section, and the ALS Procedure Center. These groups all play very important roles in ensuring that the ALS stays at the forefront of synchrotron radiation sources while operating safely and reliably.
The Accelerator Physics Group, led by Christoph Steier and myself, is continually working to improve operations and expand the capabilities of the accelerator. In this endeavor, the group works closely with users, beamline scientists, and the engineering groups to provide high performance, reliable operations, smooth implementation of accelerator upgrades, and to develop future upgrades.
There has been a rich history of developments of the ALS accelerator. This includes the implementation of new and sometimes very novel insertion devices, the superbend magnets, and more recently, the transition to top-off injection. The ALS is the world’s brightest source of soft x-ray (<1nm) radiation, which is remarkable considering that at 17 years of age, it is the second oldest third generation light source. The developments are far from over and in particular the next four years will be a period of intense development. There will be brightness, RF system, controls and instrumentation upgrades (see this month’s feature). In addition, the APEX photo-injector, a prototype for a high-repetition rate free electron laser, will be tested at the ALS beam test facility. It is a very exciting time.
The Accelerator Operations Group, led by Rick Bloemhard, provides safe and reliable operation of the accelerators 24-hours a day. They are the first line of defense when operations issues arise. Additionally, operators provide after hours emergency response and user assistance. Finally, operational reliability data is compiled and analyzed by David Richardson (one of two owl-shift operators), which can be seen in the Building 80 corridor at the entrance to Building 6.
The Floor Operations Section, an integral part of the Accelerator Operations Group, is led by John Pruyn and is charged with maintaining configuration control of beamline radiation shielding. This section acts as the first line of defense in ensuring that any shielding work (no matter how small) is initiated and completed safely and properly. These highly trained experts play a critical role in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of such a complex ensemble of beamlines.
Finally the Procedure Center, led by Karen Nunez, develops, maintains, and updates ALS procedures. The ALS relies on more than 350 procedures (operations, user, electrical, mechanical, interlock, etc.) for accomplishing work safely and efficiently. Procedures need to be current and carefully written and reviewed, and the relevant staff needs to be properly trained. It is a big job.
I am very proud of the work done by the members of the Accelerator Operations and Development Groups. They continue to play a major role in keeping the ALS at the forefront of synchrotron light sources. We warmly welcome input and feedback from users and staff.
David Robin, 510-486-6028,
Christoph Steier, 510-495-2992
Rick Bloemhard, 510-486-4738
Control Room, 510-486-4969
Floor Operations, 510-486-7464 (RING)
Procedure Center, 510- 486-6535,
ALSNews Vol. 307
Sue Bailey, User Services Group Leader
As head of the User Services Group, I am responsible for many of the functions that enable our users to get access to ALS facilities as quickly and efficiently as possible. I have an open door policy and encourage users to come and talk to me with their ideas for improving their interactions with the ALS, or to let me know of their recent scientific breakthroughs. Please drop by my office (6-2214, beside the User Services Office), or contact me by phone (486-7727) or by
Specifically,I am responsible for the ALS User Services Office which handles the general user proposal system, the administration of new and returning users (registration, safety training, end-of-run reports), the coordination of the annual Users’ Meeting, and the collection of publications. I am also responsible for the Experiment Coordination Group whose members work with all users to ensure that they can come in, set up their experiment, and work safely. I work with the Communications Group to publish ALSNews, Spectrum (our annual facility report), and facility documents such as the ALS Strategic Plan. Our team also creates handouts for visitors, posters in the ALS Lobby and for meetings, and manages the ALS Web site as well as the communications for the annual Users’ Meeting (Save the date! October 13–15, 2010)
We have some exciting projects going on, particularly in the Communications Group. The most visible one to users will be a redesign of the ALS Web site, which we plan to roll out later this year. If you have strong views on what you would like to see, I encourage you to contact us at
. A science café has also been started at the ALS, meeting every 6-8 weeks, and we encourage users to attend to hear about the latest work taking place around the ring. The current theme is energy research, and all users are welcome to attend and share their work with us.
We also have a lot of plans on the safety front. We have known for some time that our current Experiment Safety Sheet (ESS) system needs rethinking and that we need to give web-based access to all parties. After a recent joint meeting with the other US light sources, we plan to model our new system on the APS ESAF system. We are also starting to work with other light sources to streamline training requirements.
The User Services Office has made several updates to its processes. Our aim is to make life easier for users on arrival at the ALS. We continue to increase Web access so that more of the registration and safety documentation process can be completed by users before their arrival at the ALS, ensuring that they can get on with their research promptly.
Sue Bailey, 510-486-7727,
Guest registration and training,
Experiment coordination – safety documentation,
ALSNews Vol. 306
Roger Falcone, Director: Happy New Year!
I welcome our ALS family back to the Lab, and hope that the holidays were an enriching time for you and your family and friends. For me, it was a nice time to catch up on reading, and to cook for and talk with my children and wife, since my family came home from work and school for the break.
We enter 2010 with a fine budget for ALS. It appears that this year we will receive the level of funds requested by the President. We also have a large number of big projects. These include new equipment funded through stimulus dollars, the MAESTRO beamline, continued upgrades of the accelerator, infrastructure projects including HVAC and the User Support Building, new microscopes... the list is almost overwhelming... but I know we can accomplish it all.
The terrific efforts of the staff and users of the ALS in the past year have enhanced our reputation, and bolstered the high level of confidence of our sponsors, which in turn has led to continued support for our strategic plan for multi-year renewal of the ALS. We are clearly blessed to have a wonderful group of colleagues, dedicated to operating the best light source facility and doing the most important science.
With the appointment of our new Lab Director, Paul Alivisatos, and his goal of making our Lab the nation's strongest contributor to the global challenge of finding sustainable energy systems, I know that the ALS will flourish in coming years. Paul is an ALS user, and knows the power of our facility. Of course, we enable many important research projects in energy science, as well as in many other important areas.
Thank you again for your dedication to excellence and the collegial and safe environment that characterizes the ALS, and Happy New Year!
ALSNews Vol. 305